Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Democrats' Liberal Malaise

I am proudly and fiercely liberal, the son and grandson of FDR Democrats who believed that no problem or social issue was too big to be solved. But implicit in that belief was that no problem or social issue was too big to be funded by Washington, and that simply is no longer the case in the new millennium, let alone with a lingering hangover from a deep recession gifted the Obama administration.

Problem is, although the White House finally seems to be getting the message, key liberal Democrats aren't.

There would seem to be a sizable dollop of hypocrisy in my point of view since I not only supported health-care reform, but believe the package that squeaked through Congress earlier this year did not go far enough. As it is, the added burden of HCR on the federal budget is more than made up for in the myriad ways it will begin to fix a dysfunctional health-care system and help the nation's millions of uninsured and underinsured in coming years, which in the long term is vital to an economic recovery.

Anyhow, the skinned cat howls from outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her liberal fire brigade in reaction to the Simpson-Bowles proposals to return Washington to a semblance of solvency tell us all we need to know about their mindset.

Hey, I plan to max out my Social Security bennies by working until I'm 67 1/2 and probably am old enough to escape any big changes, should they be enacted. But I also recognize that the time has come to make the system more progressive, not the least because people are living longer. Simpson-Bowles does just that by decreasing SS benefits for the poor and decreasing them for the rich.

And if you're a liberal, what's not to like about a proposal that cuts defense spending while lowering taxes on the poor and protecting education funding?

The Republicans aren't getting a pass on any of this, and too many of them nurse senses of grievance greater than senses of the responsibilities of governance while continuing to act like they would prefer a government shutdown to jobs creation.

Yes, I know that it's Pelosi's job to rally liberals (and protect her own turf) in the wake of the Democrats' mid-term debacle. But somebody needs to break it to Madame Former Speaker that Simpson-Bowles doesn't roll back current spending as much as it limits spending in the future. It's not a blueprint for smaller government, but rather for saner government.

That's not just a good thing, it's a necessary thing.

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